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A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666;

ACLU Teleconference TODAY at 10:30 AM: The Obama Administration and Impunity for Torture

Experts Will Discuss Major Civil Lawsuits, the Forthcoming OPR Report and the Obama Administration's Efforts to Shield Bush Administration Officials From Accountability for Torture


substantial evidence already in the public domain that senior members
of the Bush administration were directly involved in the illegal
torture program, efforts to achieve accountability have been repeatedly
stymied by the Obama administration. The American Civil Liberties Union
will host a teleconference today, Thursday, December 10 at 10:30 a.m.
EST to "connect the dots" on the following issues:

Criminal Investigation: Since the
beginning of his administration, President Obama has discouraged a
full-blown criminal investigation of the torture program, arguing that
the country should look forward, not backward. While Attorney General
Eric Holder launched a "preliminary review" on August 24, 2009 into
"whether federal laws were violated in connection with the
interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations," that
investigation is narrowly circumscribed and does not encompass senior
officials who authorized torture or senior government attorneys who
facilitated it. The investigation is exceedingly limited in scope even
though a report of the Justice Department's Office of Professional
Responsibility (OPR), which is expected to be released imminently,
reportedly underscores the central role that government lawyers played
in justifying the Bush administration's torture policies.

Civil lawsuits on behalf of torture victims:
In case after case, including the ACLU's case against Boeing subsidiary
Jeppesen DataPlan for its role in the CIA extraordinary rendition
flights, the administration has tried to block accountability and
redress for torture victims by improperly asserting the "state secrets"
privilege. The ACLU will be arguing the Jeppesen case before an en banc
panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on December 15.
The Obama administration also filed a friend-of-the-court brief
December 3 in a case brought by Jose Padilla against torture-memo
author John Yoo, arguing that the Constitution does not provide a civil
remedy to prisoners who were deemed to be "enemy combatants" and then
tortured in U.S. custody.

Civil lawsuits for disclosure of torture files:
Notwithstanding its stated commitment to transparency, the Obama
administration continues to withhold crucial documents relating to the
Bush administration's torture program, including documents relating to
the CIA's black sites, transcripts in which CIA prisoners discuss their
torture in those black sites and photographs showing the abuse of
prisoners in Defense Department custody. The ACLU continues to fight
for comprehensive disclosure of the Bush administration's torture files
and has moved to hold the CIA in contempt for its destruction of
videotapes showing prisoners being waterboarded. The CIA is scheduled
to process for potential release by December 23 a batch of documents describing the reasons and people behind the CIA's destruction of the videotapes.


Teleconference featuring ACLU experts discussing major civil lawsuits,
the forthcoming OPR report, lack of transparency and the Obama
administration's efforts to shield Bush administration officials from
accountability for torture, followed by a question and answer period
for members of the media


Jameel Jaffer, Director, ACLU National Security Project
Ben Wizner, attorney in the ACLU's rendition lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan
Alex Abdo, attorney in the ACLU's torture FOIA lawsuits
Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel


TODAY, Thursday, December 10, 2009
10:30 a.m. EST


United States: (800) 288-9626
International: (612) 332-0335

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666